Learning From Mistakes: The Kung Fu Fighting Chipmunk

I promised to share stories from the past twenty years that Therapy Solutions has been in existence.  The tale I have to tell is not one I am proud of because it is about a mistake I made. But I often learn from mistakes, and it is funny.

This happened in the first three years of the business.  One of the employees had recently broken up with her boyfriend.  He stopped in when she wasn’t there and brought a mechanized Kung Fu fighting chipmunk and some flowers (actually, I am sure of the chipmunk but only vaguely remember if the second item was flowers).  Another employee took it upon herself to confiscate the items, saying it would be so hurtful to our fellow employee to see these things and be reminded of this boyfriend.  This is where I made my mistake, I agreed with her and let her take the flowers home, while I took home the Kung Fu fighting chipmunk.  I know, stupid, right?!

A couple days later while eating lunch with the over-protective employee the recently broken up employee came in to ask if we knew anything about her former boyfriend stopping by and leaving a gift.  I froze.  We were caught!  We sheepishly admitted to it, and I returned the chipmunk.  She was not pleased.  I was embarrassed.

But as I said learning from my mistakes is a common mode of operation for me.  This episode taught me important lessons in communication.

  1.  Don’t try to shield other people from the experiences that come to them in life.  Tell them the truth! Gently.  Kindly.  Be there for them.  But hiding the facts in the end can hurt.  And worse you can lose trust. Which leads to the second lesson.
  2. I would rather be a person that can be trusted to tell the truth and to stand along side in difficult times.

In fact, the employee and her former boyfriend had chosen to remain friend sand it was a peace offering.  It was not something that would hurt her feelings. We were assuming.  Thus leading to lesson number three:

The old adage: when you assume, you make an ass of u and me.

I read, practiced and trained to improve my communication skills.  It takes time to acquire the skill of direct and open communication that is delivered with respect and kindness.   And it is worth it!  Resources that have been helpful to me includ:

The Awareness Wheel (public domain, see image)

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (book)

Active Listening  This is an excellent tool to develop your mental ability to fully listen to another person.

The Victim Triangle by Lynne Forrest  This tool is first important to understand, then understand how you participate in this form of communication and finally find your way about by being clear about what you want.

To survive my mistake based method of learning I have also had to learn to release shame.  But that topic requires it’s own blog.  Cheers!


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